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1993 Dodge Shadow ES Rebuild

posted Mar 8, 2015, 10:46 PM by Neil Caulfield   [ updated Mar 8, 2015, 11:48 PM ]

From November 2013 to April 2014, I did my first engine repair that involved the removal of an engine. Before, I had knowledge of how an engine functioned, but had only done simple repairs that didn't involve removing large components. 

When I was given the offer to buy the well maintained economy convertible for $150 with coolant leak believed to be from the gasket or near the gasket itself, and a bad starter, I figured it was the perfect window of opportunity to give automotive repair a shot with almost nothing to lose. I had always dreamed of owning a project car when I was younger. Unable to test drive before I bought, it was a shot in the dark. I had no idea how the 20 year old car handled, if it had hidden problems, or if I could even tackle this task. It had been sitting for a little over a year beforehand, but was taken very good care of by its previous three owners. 

5 Months later I succeeded, and it was registered and on the road again. By the way, the thing handled great!

A video of the part of the engine teardown:

For starters, this engine was probably on the harder side to work with, but careful attention to reassembly ensured nothing would break or fly apart. The hardest part was lowering the engine past the transmission housing and back onto its mounts. The transmission had to be angled upwards to make room for the flex plate. The engine came down wrong a few times and made some unpleasant noises hitting against things. Lining an engine up with its mounts is usually a two or three person job, but pressed for time, I pressed onward by myself with no friends available to help before my departure for spring break. 

Once the engine was back in the car, troubleshooting began. The Idle was high, the brakes were weak, and there was a lot of smoke coming from the engine bay after a few minutes. The exhaust was loud and popped frequently. 

Two of those problems were caused by the brake booster hose being disconnected from the intake manifold. This restored the brake power and the normal idle. The smoke was fixed after I realized that the smoke was caused by a melted power-steering line that had come in contact with the exhaust. Luckily it was the easy to replace return line that is secured with two hose clamps. 

Now that I had acquired historic tags, I could legally drive it home! I drove to the nearest gas station to fill up, but as the car came close to an idle, it stalled. Nervously I restarted the engine and pulled closer to the pump, and was interrupted again as I put my foot on the brake. After filling up, I drove over to the auto-parts store for some advice, turns out two distributor wires were in the wrong place, causing the backfiring, a rough idle, and -of course- reduced power. The engine sounded much better after this and after a few laps around the parking lot, it was safe to say that it wasn't going to be stalling anymore. 

Photos of the cleaning and gasket replacement procedure: 

Possible things that may require attention in the future:

  • clean and restore clear-coat before irreversible clear-coat damage occurs
  • tighten gaps in exhaust system
  • remove rust from underside of trunk panel
  • replace trunk gas springs
  • fix driver's side window motor or regulator - window rolls up slowly